DEPARTMENT store Debenhams in The Market Place Centre Bolton will shut after online fashion retailer Boohoo bought the brand to move it online only in a £55 million deal.

The announcement that all stores were to shut was described as a blow for the high street and the staff employed ­— with The Market Place Centre voicing concerns that projects vital to the long term success of Bolton town centre seem to be slowing down.

Alison Stewart, Senior Asset Manager at Moorgarth Group Limited which runs Market Place Centre, said: “Today’s news will be a further blow to Debenhams’ staff and to shoppers across the country. It is a great shame to lose a 242 year old brand from Britain’s High Streets. The retail sector is changing at a rapid pace, on both a national and international level, and our high streets and retail centres have been hard hit by the pandemic.

“This announcement however, just focuses our attention even further on delivering a repurposing package for this space. As a landlord, we have been in talks with Debenhams for a considerable time and no stone is being left unturned to find a new use for the store."

Debenhams Bolton is set to reopen for short time after lockdown restrictions are lifted, and when it closes the shopping centre is confident it will still attract shoppers.

Alison said: “The Market Place Centre has benefited from a £27million investment and this beautiful Heritage Asset is well-placed to attract the very best retailers, eateries and leisure operators. Our fantastic range of tenants and new names such as Beaverbrooks, are testament to this. We are confident that whilst major online retailers such boohoo and Asos are buying up high street retail, there will always be demand for bricks and mortar stores and a shopping and leisure ‘experience’. The Market Place Centre will continue to be a high-end fashion, leisure and hospitality destination for the region."

Alison called on different parties to work together for the future success of Bolton.

She said: “It does concern me however that major regeneration projects in the town, such as the redevelopment of Crompton Place, seem to be slowing down. Now more than ever, Bolton Council, investors and landlords all need to play their part in ensuring the continued success of the town centre. In the short-term, Debenhams is likely to re-open along with other stores within the The Market Place Centre, as soon as we have the Government go-ahead and safe shopping is permitted. It will then trade for 4-6 weeks as part of a stock liquidation process.”